Low-income lottery players motivated by class consciousness?

New researc from Emily Haisley, formerly a PhD student at Carnegie Mellon and now on the faculty at Yale, and her co-authors “sheds light on the reasons why low-income lottery players eagerly invest in a product that provides poor returns,” according to a Carnegie Mellon press release.

This research is published in the July 2008 issue of the Journal of Behavioral Decision Making here.  The study’s abstract reads as follows:

Despite a return of only $.53 on the dollar, state lotteries are extremely popular, especially among the poor, who play the most but can least afford to play. In two experiments conducted with low-income participants, we examine how implicit comparisons with other income classes increase low-income individuals’ desire to play the lottery. In Experiment 1, participants were more likely to purchase lottery tickets when they were primed to perceive that their own income was low relative to an implicit standard. In Experiment 2, participants purchased more tickets when they considered situations in which rich people or poor people receive advantages, implicitly highlighting the fact that everyone has an equal chance of winning the lottery.

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